Monday, 8 October 2007

Sky On the Walk

Sky, my Airedale Terrier, has one main problem I'm finding extremely difficult to solve.
When she sees other dogs while she's on a lead she sometimes (most of the time) pulls like mad, sometimes even barks at them. Off lead she is fine with other dogs.

She is definately worse if the other dog also has a similar problem, which quite often seems to be the case. It is a problem I really want to solve, because sometime last year when she was being looked after by my Mum, while I was on holiday she pulled my mum over in the street. Now, even though my Mum is happy to have her again, its not something I want to risk happening again.

Over the last couple of months and especially the last few weeks since I've been watching and learning from Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer programme she has come on leaps and bounds and when there is no dog, or cat for that matter in view she walks like a dream. Really excellent.

A few months ago I was really not enjoying the walks at all, which creates a vicious circle as I didn't want to walk her and when I did "the chore" I didn't do it for a long as should.

I think the problem arose because of dominance issues, which Ive worked greatly on. Also, up until early this year I walked her on an extendy lead, which obviously gave her the "leader of the pack" role as she is walking way ahead of me and also could pull in any direction whenever she wanted, i.e saw a cat.

I scrapped the extendy lead and Ive tried walking her by just attaching lead to her normal collar which proved quite difficult as she was constantly trying to edge in front on the walk.
Recently I used a check chain for a few weeks, which may have helped a bit in correcting her edging out in front occassional pulling but did nothing in the heat of the moment of pulling at other dogs.

Within the last 2 weeks I bought a new collar and lead, nylon I think, which I felt was betterthan my previous chain lead. However, this time I fully implentend some of what Id seen on Dog Whisperer:
1)Don't put the lead on the dog until she is calm submissive
2)Don't leave the house until dog is calm submissive.
3)When you leave the house make sure you lead the way physically.
4)Leave the house like your a pack leader, calm assertive, head high and relaxed. Envisage yourself the leader, kind of like you own the streets.

These steps work great. Until I come up against other dogs.

I don't know if the problem still relies with myself. Here's some examples from the last 2 days,

Yesterday, Sky was walking great, I could see a German Shepherd coming my way. It looked fine but did have a what looked like a head collar. I felt I was ready, standing tall, chest out, no tension on the leash, ready to just keep on walking past the other dog.

However, looking back maybe I was kind of avoidng the situation, because in the middle of the street was another man looking in a shop window and I deliberately went the left side of him as the other dog and owner were going the right side.

As I looked at the German Shepherd I noticed it ears prick up as it looked at Sky and within a split second she out out of control, pulling and barking, which I stopped immediately by pulling her back and up. I hadn't noticed the german Shepherd pulling or going out of control. We then moved on. It's actually quite rare for her to bark at a non barking dog.

Then today, I was walking down the street and again Sky was fine. Two small dogs were coming our way and again I was consiously relaxed. Sky started to beome a little fixated so I tried to correct her out of it. The other 2 dogs were both out in front and pulling there owner. In seconds, from being slightly fixated Sky had pulled out in front of me and I was pulling her back.

The lady and her dogs walked into a drive way. I turned to walk the other way to lead Sky in another direction and gainthe leader position and intending to turn back with her under control. However as Im walking away she was pulling back to the dogs, so I said to the women, "Ill cross over, so I crossed over the road, and when I got over Sky was still pulling a bit to face the direction of the dogs and I sat her down and confronted her then moved on.

Should I have crossed over? By doing that I feel I just avoided the problem. Although, I don't know purpose it would have served me pulling Sky past 2 excited dogs, there's no way it would gone smoothly.

Maybe the problem is I'm not correcting her enough when she goes into even slight fixated mode. Thats what I'm going to make sure I'm fully aware of next time.

I've been having similar problems for a while. The thing is its all happens and is then over in a matter of seconds.

Anyway, this is certainly one goal I have to achieve and I'll be so happy when I have!

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Dog Walking Successfully on The Treadmill

Today I had a go at walking my Airedale Terrier, Sky on the treadmill today.
Now this is something I’ve seen Cesar Milan do many times on his Dog Whisperer programme.
Today wasn’t the first time I had tried it. I had an attempt a few weeks ago and failed miserably.

Today though was very different and a success . I think one of they keys this time was that I didn’t go and get the lead so Sky, didn’t go into excitable "Walkies" mode.

During my previous attempt I had Sky on her lead and actually on the treadmill but when I turned it on she panicked and jumped off. When I straddled her she just dug her claws in and pulled backwards with me pulling her forward, which was just creating more tension that made her pull back even harder. After that she wasn't to keen to go on it so in effect I had taken a step back.

This time, because the her previous experience had not gone to well I started off by leading her onto the treadmill with some treats. She was very relaxed and happily went onto the treadmill. I tried using the treat as a guide to get her to actually have all 4 paws on it with head facing forward but this wasn’t to be.
In the end I had to pick up the back to feet and told her to sit, which she did and then got the reward.
I then had her standing facing forward. I was standing over her with my feet on the side of the treadmill and my legs either side of her body. I had her on a fairly short lead to keep control of her. The lead was nice and relaxed.
I started up the treadmill at a nice and steady walking pace and she was walking fine. I had a treat ready in front her head ready to reward her but she didn’t seem to interested.

Mission accomplished, she was walking fine. I did try tying the leash to the treadmill and then getting off but she would then also jump off. So I put her back on for a few more minutes and then tried getting on myself, but again she followed.

Thinking about it, maybe I should have finished the session we me getting off and then telling her to as well, rather than her just doing it of her own accord.

Anyway, I can’t wait to show my other half later, (its her treadmill), and I hope to capture some film of the moment, and then Ill work out how to upload it on Youtube for all to see.

Sky has just completed another 15 minute stint on the treadmill. I was on it as well straddling her with my legs either side. I upped the pace a bit, but its still slightly lower than my normal fast walking pace. She seemed to enjoy it, although her tail's not up like normal and she does need to concentrate or she goes a bit wonky. She seemed extra content when she had got off.

All in all she is doing excellent. I used to work in a fitness club many years ago and the treadmill was difficult for a quite a few first timers who needed while to get there balance.

My aim is to get her walking on it on her own without me having to be standing over her. Ideally I'd like my feet up watching a bit of TV. I wouldn't leave her alone in the room, no matter how good she gets.

My Tips to Success
1)Make sure dog is "calm submissive" before you start.
2)Make sure you yourself are calm and focused. I remember Cesar saying one time he thought and envisioned going on the the treadmill with the dog before actually doing it.
3)Have a treat ready if needed. (May be a distraction so try without).
4)Try to get dog on the treadmill of own accord.
5)Keep leash relaxed. Correct dog if needed to pull forward or to center, but don't have pro-longed tension.

In Cesar's book, "Cesar's Way" he states it can take 2 weeks for a dog to get used to a treadmill and then they can even get addicted to it and will be asking to go on it.

This will hopefully be a great help in burning off some of Sky's excess energy and help with her dominance issues.

(Try and at your own risk and also checkout every aspect of safety first).

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